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Desert Queens: Running for our lives

Sat 1 Mar 2008 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

You may have participated in the AIDS Candlelight Memorial or a gay rights march of some kind, but what about all the other issues that affect us as human beings? Hey - your issues are my issues too One group of lesbian and gay friendly women in Hamilton have come together to be part of Relay for Life: an exciting overnight team challenge that raises money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Bex, the Team Captain, feels it's important to have a visible lesbian/gay friendly team at an event like Relay, "It reinforces the idea that I am the same as everyone else. I have the same struggles and I grieve for the loss of people I have loved." The team of nine Desert Queens have taken on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as their theme. Whilst walking the track they'll wear a lavender coloured cardboard bus which they've created. This is their second year of involvement, coming out with a rainbow theme in 2007. Emotions run high For Bex, being part of Relay has personal significance and the support of her partner, who is also in the team, has proved important. She says, "It's a time for walking alone as well as with others. Being there in a large crowd of people who are all there for the same purpose makes it a very supportive atmosphere." The Hamilton Relay begins at 2pm on 8 March with an Opening Lap lead by cancer survivors. Family, friends and caregivers will gather round the track to show support and pay homage to their strength and courage. Then at dusk, a special Candle Light Ceremony with hundreds of candle tributes, each inscribed with personal messages, will illuminate the inside of the track to honour survivors and remember those who have lost their lives to cancer. Personal as well as team goals The Desert Queens goal is to keep a runner/walker on the track through the entire event. "This is not as easy as it might sound when you're facing a two-hour stretch at 4am on Saturday morning!" says Bex. A festive environment helps everyone go the distance with hundreds of runners and walkers on the track, team members cheering on the sidelines, various spot prizes and non-stop entertainment. The Cancer Society receives no direct funding from the government therefore relies heavily on community fundraising events like Relay. The Desert Queens aim to raise $100 each as individuals and have collected further funds as a team through a raffle and garage sale. "The donations collected at Relay For Life will be used for cancer research, to continue the free services that we - the Cancer Society, offer to those people in our community living with cancer, their families and the health professionals that support them, and for cancer prevention programmes." Has someone in your life been touched by cancer? Then get involved in Relay. You don't have to be part of a team to light a candle or walk around the track. Relay For Life is on at venues throughout New Zealand from 23 February. Kirsten Cliff - 1st March 2008    

Credit: Kirsten Cliff

First published: Saturday, 1st March 2008 - 9:40am

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